Russia is considering introducing a tax on bloggers who receive donations from their viewers. This comes as lawmakers look to cut off the flow of money to ‘trash streamers’ after the death of a girl was broadcast live online.
The proposed tax was suggested by one of the country’s most prominent senators, Alexey Pushkov, a member of the ruling United Russia party. The wheels are already in motion for it to be implemented.
“Currently, the money that trash streamers receive is registered as donations, and donations in Russia are not taxed,” Pushkov said on Friday. “But how legitimate is it to consider them as donations if it is a fee for providing certain video services?”
“It is a form of tax evasion,” he added.
Trash streams are a phenomenon on Russian video websites which recently made international headlines after a 28-year-old woman was killed on camera. In essence, ‘trash streams’ are live broadcasts in which people do whatever is asked of them in return for a donation from viewers. These dares are often humiliating and target those desperate for money.
In October last year, streamer Mellstroy (Andrey Burim) became famous after assaulting a girl live on camera. Mellstroy has hundreds of thousands of subscribers on social media platforms such as Instagram.
Two months later, Reeflay (Stas Reshetnikov) was arrested for grievous bodily harm that resulted in the death of a person, after his girlfriend Valentina Grigoryeva passed away. Reeflay received donations from his viewers to routinely abuse Grigoryeva, including attacking her with pepper spray. During one stream, he kicked her out into the winter cold. When he brought her back in, she was dead.
In January, another trash-stream victim passed away on a broadcast. Yury Dushechkin, a homeless man, died after he was paid to drink one and a half liters of low-quality vodka.
The latest move by Pushkov isn’t his first to combat this form of online content. Previously, he proposed a blanket ban on broadcasts that livestream violence.
“A criminal case has just been opened when a girl died as a result of a stream,” Pushkov told the Senate. “We must introduce such amendments to the legislation that will prohibit trash streams.”
In January, Senator Olga Kovitidi suggested introducing criminal responsibility for those who donate to trash streamers, believing that it should be equivalent to aiding and abetting their illegal actions.
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